A standard developmental milestone in children is to learn how to jump, and this usually happens at the age of 3. Some may develop this skill even before 3 and for some a little later than 3. They learn to jump at their own rates. 50% of the children learn to jump with both their feet off the ground when they’re 24 months old, and nearly 75% of children learn this by 27 months.
Jumping – Developmental Milestone
This is a motor developmental milestone that requires balance and strength with the awareness of body and motor planning. It is important to ensure that while practising this skill they are exposed to different environments. Doing these bare feet will let the kid interact with different and unique textures of the ground.
It is better to start the practice on soft surfaces like grass, padded mats, carpet, and then start doing them on the hardwood. This way each surfaces come off as a unique challenge to the children. You can also use other children as examples, as peer play is required to accomplish this motor milestone. Children often tend to observe and learn from other children. So when do toddlers start jumping?
- At this age, kids jump off with both their feet up in the air.
- They can jump forward for at least 3 inches
During these months, the kids can jump with both feet from the bottom step landing.
They can now jump over small stationary items and obstacles.
They can jump forward for a minimum length of 26 inches with the take-off and landing done with their two feet.
When they become 4 years old, they start hopping on one foot at least 3-5 times.
- They start jumping and turning 180 degrees in the air.
- They begin to jump rope
- They start to hop 8 times on one foot and can switch to the other foot and hop 8 times.
It is important not to hurry the skill of each child because this process occurs in a stepwise manner. The children start this process by first experimenting the weight shift, jump up and down, jumping over, hopping on one foot and finally hopping alternatively on a single leg and double legs, hopscotch. All of these milestones happen in a sequence, and it is important to support and encourage them as they grow up and experiment.
Tips and Activities to Encourage Jumping
Lack of these basic skills could result in low levels of physical fitness as the children grow older. When such skills are not acquired, their participation in activities becomes more difficult which might also cause social isolation as the other kids might start avoiding them.
Activities like jumping often begin spontaneously, but it is better to practice so that they master these skills. How to teach a toddler to jump? The most important thing you can do to encourage jumping is by giving the children time, space, and the opportunities to move around.
The following things can be done to encourage jumping:
1. Therapy Ball Jumps
You can start using the therapy balls by first stabilising them with your body against a wall or in the corner of the room. You can support the kid with downward pressure at their hips while you encourage them to bounce up and down gently. This strengthens their lower extremity joints.
2. Trampoline Jumps
Jumping on a trampoline with a bar is an excellent way for the children to develop their jumping skills independently. Until they are ready to depend on the strength of their lower back to jump vertically, they can recruit upper body support with this trampoline.
3. Animal Jumps
You can infuse a more creative expression into jumping and make them more fun by role-playing many animal movements. You can try out frog jumps, jumps that include deep squats or do kangaroo jumps- vertical upright jumps.
4. Hippity Hop Jumps
This kind of jump provides help with motor planning because the kid jumps using a ball. They also practice bending their knees and using their feet to push off the floor.
5. Footprint Jumps
You can use tactile footprints to help designate a colourful beginning and ending position for the kid. The footprints are of a unique and gentle texture which helps to activate the sole muscles of your child as they try to make a firm grip on the floor.
6. Platform Jumps
They can jump down from low heights. Here you can use a foam balance beam because of the proprioceptive inputs it provides to their bare feet. Coloured spots also give a vibrant visual cue also promoting narrowed base of support when jumping.
7. Coloured Tape Jumps
This type of jumping is a great precursor of hurdles. They offer visual cues needed to develop motor planning skills which are essential for jumping.
8. Hurdle Jumps
You can encourage more vertical jumping by placing obstacles after the kid has mastered jumping over tapes. You can increase the height of the obstacles gradually providing the kid with new challenges so that they develop strength along with balance and control in their jumping skills. You can also add coloured footprints to help address lower extremity alignment while jumping.
9. Hoop jumps
The hoop ladder is great for practising jumping as it promotes a narrowed base of support. The colourful hoops also motivate the child to plant their feet inside the boundary. The hoop ladder is another excellent way of promoting this skill as changing configuration teaches the kid open- close jumps in preparation for hopscotch.
This type of puzzle can be used to help with open- close jumps, forward and sideways jumping while the kid progresses to the next number, and finally single to double leg style of jumping.
Activities to practice jumping:
- You can cut out fun shapes, bugs, or letters and let them practice jumping from one shape to another
- Blowing bubbles and making your kid pop them by jumping up is another fun way to practice this skill
- Keep many objects to serve as obstacles on the floor and ask your kid to jump over them. You can place a jump rope, hula hoops, a garden hose, sticks, and even toys.
- Hang a ball in the air and have your kid touch it by jumping up.
- The kid can also try fun tools like hopscotch, trampoline, and jump ropes.
- Your kid can also jump over or in the puddles to make practising more fun.
During jumping your child should:
- Focus their eyes forward or upward throughout the jump
- Keep their arms behind their body and have their knees crouched
- Swing their arms upward and forward forcefully
- Straighten their legs when in the air
- Land on the balls of their feet and have their knees bent so that they absorb the shock from landing
- Control their landing on the floor with a maximum of one step in any direction.
If your child does not start jumping around 2.5- 3 years then it is better to contact your paediatrician or a paediatric physical therapist. Seek a doctor if your child starts showing other difficulties while jumping like asymmetric jumping, lacking the power while pushing off, falling frequently, and an indication of anxiety or frustration.
Also Read: Developmental Milestones for Toddlers